PROPANE SHORTAGE: Lawmakers look for immediate help - FOX 35 News Orlando

PROPANE SHORTAGE: Lawmakers look for immediate help

Posted: Updated:
  • PROPANE SHORTAGE: Lawmakers look for immediate helpMore>>

  • PROPANE SHORTAGE: New income limits for help in Minnesota

    PROPANE SHORTAGE: New income limits for help in Minnesota

    Tuesday, February 4 2014 3:41 PM EST2014-02-04 20:41:35 GMT
    Gov. Dayton signed an executive order to increase the income limits for heating assistance eligibility. A group of 6 Midwestern governors also wrote a letter to President Obama, asking for supply help.
    Gov. Mark Dayton on Tuesday signed an executive order to increase the income limits for heating assistance eligibility. A group of 6 Midwestern governors also wrote a letter to President Obama, asking for the federal government's help to increase propane supplies by "every means of transport."
  • PROPANE SHORTAGE: Inside the hotline call center

    PROPANE SHORTAGE: Inside the hotline call center

    Monday, February 3 2014 8:32 PM EST2014-02-04 01:32:23 GMT
    The phones keep ringing at Minnesota's propane hotline as people seek help with heating their homes amid a shortage that has caused prices to triple, and Fox 9 News got a look inside.
    The phones keep ringing at Minnesota's propane hotline as people seek help with heating their homes amid a shortage that has caused prices to triple, and Fox 9 News got a look inside.
  • PROPANE SHORTAGE: Hotline hours, peacetime emergency extended

    PROPANE SHORTAGE: Hotline hours, peacetime emergency extended

    Monday, February 3 2014 4:33 PM EST2014-02-03 21:33:17 GMT
    With hundreds of calls coming in daily, the State Emergency Operations Center is extending the propane hotline hours to include the weekend, and state leaders are extending a state of peacetime emergency.
    With hundreds of calls coming in daily, the State Emergency Operations Center is extending the propane hotline hours to include the weekend, and state leaders are extending a state of peacetime emergency.
  • PROPANE SHORTAGE: Minn. sets up hotline; Obama OKs emergency funds

    PROPANE SHORTAGE: Minn. sets up hotline; LIHEAP funds released

    Thursday, January 30 2014 6:09 PM EST2014-01-30 23:09:12 GMT
    Flickr/Creative Commons/kirinqueenFlickr/Creative Commons/kirinqueen
    On Thursday, state and federal officials took additional steps to address the propane shortage by establishing a public hotline to answer questions and releasing additional federal funds for aid.
    On Thursday, state and federal officials took additional steps to address the propane shortage by establishing a public hotline to answer questions and releasing additional federal funds for aid.
ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

Over the past several weeks, more and more stories of Minnesotans struggling to heat their homes amid a lingering propane shortage have emerged, and state lawmakers are looking for ways to provide help fast.

On Tuesday, legislators looked for ways to prevent a future shortage while also looking for ways to provide help to families that need it now.

There are 250,000 Minnesota households that rely on propane for home heating, and the stretches of sub-zero temperatures this winter has made keeping homes habitable especially difficult as fuel prices climbed.

Although propane providers do believe that conservation has helped, they doubt the end of the shortage is just around the corner. Lawmakers at Wednesday's Energy Commission hearing are similarly skeptical that the problem will be resolved soon.

The Minnesota Department of Commerce told Fox 9 News the state is still very much in crisis mode. The state's propane hotline has taken about 3,000 from Minnesotans.


HOTLINE NUMBERS

Twin Cities metro: 651-297-1304
Greater Minnesota: 1-800-657-3504


Some are complaining about price gouging, others need financial help. The state has helped 40 people in complete crisis, and legislators are looking to tackle the issue in the upcoming session -- possibly by funding families that need it using surplus money.

Lawmakers are also asking officials in the Department of Commerce to investigate reports of price gouging.

"There is no cold weather rule in the propane market," Rep. Melissa Hortman said. "You know how you or I -- if we're natural gas customers or electricity customers here, our utilities can't shut off our ability to provide heat in the middle of winters just because we can't pay our bill. People who are on propane heat, they don't have that protection."

Hortman said lawmakers will consider extending that protection when the session resumes, but protecting customers who prepaid for propane in the summer at fixed prices is also on the agenda.

"We are aware that some customers who have prepaid for propane in the summer at a fixed price were either told that they would have to wait for propane to be delivered to them or told they couldn't be delivered at that price," Bill Grant said. "That raises a real concern for us."

Many legislators have been contacted by constituents who say propane companies have broken their contracts, and some lawmakers are wondering whether the shutdown of a pipeline in December was actually planned and timed to increase prices. Those suspicions will be investigated more thoroughly once the immediate crisis is over.

Powered by WorldNow

35 Skyline Drive
Lake Mary, FL 32746

Phone: (407) 644-3535
News Tips: (866) 55-FOX35

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices